Baltimore is a majority Black city where white corporate and political interest dictate the political and economic direction of its residents. This dynamic is typical of societal norms that mask overt acts of racial bigotry via subtle mechanisms of social controls that advance the collective social, political, and economic interest of white people.
The central ingredient to unraveling the system of white supremacy is the development of authentic, grassroots, communal, independent Black political and economic power. Any solution aimed at addressing racial inequality that does not seek to develop infrastructures for our collective power is an investment in white institutional control and governance of the lives of Black people.
If Port Covington and the proposed TIF with Sagamore intend to improve the quality of life of Black people, the essential questions become: “How will the project improve the resources and mechanisms by which Black people strengthen our own independent institutional power? What new entities will we collectively own as a result? What Black owned and operated enterprises and programs are being resourced?”
Under Armor has contributed to Baltimore and I am sure that Kevin Plank will argue that those contributions have greatly benefitted Baltimore, but again: “In a majority Black city like Baltimore, how have the contributions so far, or the project itself, contributed to greater levels of Black independent institutional power?” I have witnessed several Sagamore presentations wherein these concerns have not even come close to being addressed. Unfortunately our political leadership does not operate from a paradigm of Black self-determination and independence. So it is no surprise that this has been generally absent from the conversations.
If the Port Covington deal happens and there is no thorough consideration or implementation of a community benefits agreement that empowers Black self-determination efforts and actually impact communities uptown, then we will be witnessing another example of failed leadership in Baltimore.
I do not want to hear about the jobs that this project will bring because this is a lie that has been told to us about big developments in the past. While jobs are important, we have to have enough vision and see beyond jobs, and think about collective ownership and wealth creation. Our empowerment should not be predicated on our willingness to work for enterprises we do not own. We need to leverage these development projects into opportunities to engage in meaningful collective wealth creation for Black people in Baltimore.